Don’t Throw It Away

Food waste contributes to world’s ecological woes.

| September/October 2008

  • Food Waste Shaw

  • Food Waste

The skyrocketing cost of living is hitting every American. With the price of fuel making regular hops upward, the costs of food and other consumer goods are rising accordingly. And in a difficult economy, food banks experience lower donations at a time when demand increases as a result of food insecurity. Statistics show about 10 percent of American homes suffer food insecurity at least part of the time.

For individuals, one way to help cut the weekly grocery bill is to buy local produce; another is to cut back on waste.

About a quarter of our food goes to waste. In 1997, the Department of Agriculture conducted a study that said in 1995, 96.4 billion pounds of food – out of 356 billion pounds of edible food – in the United States was never eaten. (The department is in the process of updating the study.)

The Environmental Protection Agency, in a more recent study, estimates that Americans generate 30 million tons of food waste each year, with 98 percent of that ending up in landfills. When looking at yard waste, the figures switch – only 38 percent ends up in landfills, most is composted. And consider the fact that rotting food produces massive amounts of methane, contributing to the greenhouse effect.

Granted, not all of that food waste would have been edible, though much if it could have been made into food for animals or recycled for other products, including compost.

There is also the matter of cost. The United States spends an estimated $1 billion a year to dispose of food waste.

JB Greens
10/9/2011 11:10:35 PM

I just discovered your magazine online during a sleepless night and I'm totally hooked. I'm also inspired to get out into my greenhouse and grow something, perhaps during the winter, as I've done in the past. I have gone through a period of inactivity as a greenhouse gardener. The outdoor garden here in central Missouri was a disaster, most discouraging. It was too hot and too dry. The weeds won. I recall that my mother, rest her soul, was a subsciber to Capper's weekly. She loved that little magazine. I'll be back.

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